The announcement of the long awaited National minimum wage (NMW) has been received with mixed feelings with a large number of the SA citizens feeling the amount is just not enough.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Sunday, announced the new National Minimum wage for SA workers.Taking up his role as the chairperson of the committee of principals of the National Economic Development Council (Nedlac), he announced the minimum wage of R3500 per month or R20 per hour.
Taking up his role as the chairperson of the committee of principals of the National Economic Development Council (Nedlac), he announced the minimum wage of R3500 per month or R20 per hour.
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Ramaphosa’s announcement was a feedback on recommendations made by the committee after setting up a team to probe which figure could be accepted.
The minimum wage was expected to help combat SA’s high levels of inequality and poverty, but there have been concerns that too high a wage would see businesses shedding labour, driving up the country’s already high unemployment rate.
The deputy has since his announcement of the NMW, been challenged to live on the proposed R3 500 per month so he would know how little it is.
At the fore front of those rejecting the new proposal is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which said the proposal will not lead to the desired resolution of the problem of inequality, instead it is going to institutionalize these inequalities at low poverty wages.
“The EFF, following proposals by worker organisations like Cosatu, had tabled a National minimum wage of R4 500 to parliament based on figures from 2014, which is two years ago,” he said. “Since then, inflation has increased by more than 6%. This means the initial R4 500 proposal by workers/labour should now be set at about R5 000.”
Next is the Gauteng Province branch of the Young Communist League of SA which said, through its provincial secretary Alex Mdakane that the proposed wage is “in fact an insult to the more than 47% of South Africans who wake up every morning to be exploited for a pittance of just below R3 500,”
Mdakane went on to challenge deputy President Ramaphosa to live on R3 500 at least for a week so he could experience the ‘impact’ a R3 500 wage per month has on an average employee.
The Young Communist League views the proposal “as a digression from its own commitments of championing the interests of the working class South Africans”, Mdakane said as he called on the ANC to retract its statement expressing support for the NMW.
“Clearly this is not a living wage, but it is a starting point to take the process forward,” said Dennis George, general secretary at the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa). “Unions will meet with their members to engage on the report and will give feedback to Nedlac at another meeting.”
Ramaphosa said the report on the national minimum wage, which was compiled by a seven-person committee chaired by Wits University dean of commerce and law Imraan Valodia, still had to be discussed by the social partners,
“We are now a step closer to finalising our discussion on the national minimum wage before we finally reach agreement”, he said. “It will have an impact on millions of South Africans and begin to address the issue of income inequality in SA,” Ramoaphosa added.